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Musings of a librarian, former archivist, musician, bibliophile, and tech-obsessed.


#SAA11: Saturday

I'm sitting at O'Hare, waiting for my flight. I didn't want to take a chance with Hurricane Irene and in case my flight gets cancelled, I'm here to pester them to get on another flight. I'm among many east coast archivists waiting... Anyway...

This morning I attended two sessions before I had to leave for the airport. If I waited any later, I could have been late. I attended sessions 503 and 601. 503 was great because I got to hear in person some of the information that I've been researching for the DPC concerning archival collaborations and consortiums. I now realized why there are two versions of the California Digital Library (OAL and Calisphere), and why NCEcho has very basic metadata for their projects (they're a separate institution working with many smaller institutions, some of which have no full-time staff, and they needed a very simple schema to make their program feasible across their community).

I'm glad I ended with session 601, Rappin' with a Fiddle. The session focused on music collections, unfortunately, not much audio, but the manuscript collections (including awesome avant garde music manuscripts) were very interesting! Most impressive was the Tupac Shakur Collection at the Atlanta University Center.

I can't wait until I get home so I can do some further research into all of these collections!

Also, for all the great archivists I met this week, please stay in touch, especially if you need any a/v advice!


#SAA11: Monday and Tuesday

I arrived Monday, early afternoon, got settled in the Hyatt, and started to explore the hotel and the surrounding areas. Upon trying to check in, I met an awesome archivist named Rachel, and she and I went to get some food at the conveniently-located grocery store only one block away. Then, my roomie Rona and I decided to get some Chicago deep dish pizza (phenomenal!), and to walk off the calories, we went for a walk on the Riverwalk. Chicago is gorgeous! We ended up at the House of Blues (great music!). Two guys thought we were with their conference group and we ended up explaining to them what archivists do.

Most of Tuesday I was in the Preserving Digital Archives workshop. The content was good, I learned some and some was a good review, but the instructor April was great! Even though the class was 7 hours of sitting, it was stimulating, thoughtful, and the entire class was laughing. Thanks April, for making learning about preserving born-digital materials interesting! (More specifics on this later.)

After getting some snacks at the room, Rona and I went out to explore and try and get on the Architecture Boat Tour. The box office was closed, so we decided to walk down the opposite way on the Riverwalk, and ended up at Navy Pier... Where the Architecture Tour boats were still taking tours. We did a great tour at dusk which ended at night, with the city lighting up before our eyes! Our tour guide Jeff, was great, knew a lot about the city's architecture, and had some recommendations for us (go to the John Hancock building for the best view of the city, not the Sears Tower). We then found Forever Marilyn, took some pictures with her, and went home.

Today, I take the ACA exam, will try to squeeze a tour in before the roundtables, and maybe will go to the John Hancock building!


Amazing Digital Archives

One of the tasks the Digital Practices Committee has been asked to do is to examine platforms for our digital collections. We currently use Dublin Core in DSpace, and would like to keep that way for now to prevent additional migration issues, and use either Greenstone or Omeka as a front end. The problem is that we are no longer satisfied with the capabilities or user interaction of either.

The most recent platform I've discovered us extremely impressive. It's VuDL and was created by Villanova. The user view front page is extremely clean, and it provides a browse all collections function, as well as searching across collections, a function we currently do not have in either of our current platform. The design is very clean, and easy to interact with. The only downside for us is that it is based on a METS/XML platform and we're still using DC.

This will give us plenty to consider going forward with our task.


It's an Archivist's Party!

Okay, not really, but in order to make SAA more affordable in a week-and-a-half, I will be rooming with three other young professionals. One was a former student of mine and current friend, the second, one of her former interns who attended UMD, and their third, a current UMD PhD student. Oddly enough, the pairings were completely random except for my former student and I. I met with my former student and her former intern last night for dinner and drinks and had a blast. We talked shop, we talked current jobs, we talked future aspirations, we talked past and future travel, tattoos, and Sci-fi. After spending time socializing with these ladies, I can definitely say that SAA is going to be one great party!


Freezing Films

Over the last year, I have been working with the WRLC Preservation Advisory Committee to develop standards and procedures to use our new shared freezers for deteriorating acetate film, negatives, and slides. As the only university with an a/v specialist, I agreed that CUA would be the experiment. I chose a collection of 50 films to be frozen, mainly because we do not have enough money to preserve them and digitize them; the films, while interesting, do not have enough national significance to merit pursuing a grant for their preservation and digitization; and they have been shelved on our receiving shelves taking up a considerable amount of room for new accessions because this is the only place I was able to separate them from other acetate collections.

In addition to working with staff at the off-site storage facility, I had to collaborate with CUA cataloging staff since we had to create a bibliographic record in our OPAC with separate item records to track the 50 films.

Last week, I took two students with me to the off-site storage facility to pack films, in accordance with the National Park Service instructional series (and the National Film Preservation Foundation guide). I hope to complete the project with a student tomorrow. Taping the bags around the round film canisters is very tedious and takes a considerable amount of time.

These films are part of a larger audiovisual series for which I will have a practicum student complete a full finding aid this fall. Once the finding aid is posted, we will try to generate interest so that potential researchers who are interested in the content can elect to pay for the preservation and digitization for us. Only the films with the most historical merit will be saved this way, and the others can remain in the freezer.